Mr. Wormwood: A Failure in Masculinity

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Images and expectations of masculinity surround us in every aspect of life.These ideas are fed to the individual by society from the very earliest stages of socialization. Even children are indirectly taught about categorizing men into a hierarchy of masculinities.This is evident in the books and novels children read.One such novel is Roald Dahl’s Matilda.In telling the story of an extraordinarily intelligent young girl, Dahl introduces the character of her father, Mr. Wormwood.In the development of Mr. Wormwood’s character, Dahl shows the reader that Matilda’s father is not a true masculinity.He is not a true provider, procreator or protector.Though he has a job, wormwood is not a true provider because he earns a living by stealing cars and reselling them.Though he has children, Wormwood is not a true procreator because he does not care for them.Finally, Wormwood is not a protector because when the police catch up with him, Wormwood fleas the country and leaves his daughter behind.Through an examination of Wormwood’s deficiencies, one can see which characteristics are valued as masculine.
First, Wormwood is not a provider.Though the family lives well, Wormwood does not meet the criteria of provider because he earns an underhanded living. He uses sawdust to make cars run well.He also paints them to make them look like they are in good condition.He also alters the speedometer to make it look like the car has less mileage on it.Matilda protests to these tactics saying, “that’s dishonest, daddy…It’s cheating.”However Wormwood only replies “No one ever got rich being honest.”The largest blow to Wormwood’s role as the provider comes when it is revealed at the end of the story that he is a crook.Matilda’s teacher tells her, “your father…is in with a bunch of crooks.Everyone in the village knows that.My guess is that he is the receiver of stolen cars from all over the country.”This type of e…